Each year, we are so excited to share the Academic Year in America (AYA) Host Family of the Year! Many wonderful host families are nominated each year by their international exchange students, and this year was no exception. While the national winner has been chosen, we wanted to recognize a few runners up, whose nominations also stood out as being exceptional.
Without further ado, meet the Hart Family from Montana, nominated by their exchange student, Marie from Germany.
We encourage you to read Marie’s heartfelt nomination and why she loves her host family so much:
The first time I met my host family was on a Thursday in October. I got just done with school when my Local Coordinator picked me up and took me to my new home. I was super nervous, but my host mom made so easy for me to talk. Two days later I moved in.
The week before my host family change was super hard for me, and I was wondering whether I would find a family in a short amount of time because the very last thing I wanted to do, was another change. But on the first day, I really felt wanted, even though they just met me a few days before and I really love them. It just took a few weeks and I was already a family member.
I am so thankful for every moment and every single day because they really make my exchange year to one of the best years in my life. All of them are super supportive and encouraging. They will come to every single performance I have. They will listen to me if I have something I want to talk about and are just interested in small things like school or how my family back in Germany is doing. But they also want me to experience the best of Montana and the United States. So we travel a lot.
Two of my first journeys were to Arizona because my host mom and I don’t really like to be super cold. We had so much fun together and did something different every single day. But one of my favorite memories about these trips is seeing Michelle Obama. My host mom took me to one of Michelle Obama’s book tour stops in Phoenix, and you really have to know that she is the biggest Michelle Obama fan in the entire world, so it made me so happy to see her just as excited and happy than I was.
One of our next trips was to Big Sky where my host grandma lives. She is one of the most active and sweetest grandmas I’ve ever met. I am so thankful for her and that she taught me how to snow shoeing and cross country skiing, but also to give me the feeling of having my Grandma from Germany here with me.
And when we are talking about snow and learning, I want to thank my host dad for teaching me how to ski. You are the best ski instructor ever! Also, he is one who is getting up with me in the morning and driving me to school because he really doesn’t want me to get up even earlier to take the bus. He is just the kindest person.
One of my favorite memories are memories with my host brother. He is the same age as me and we are both attending the same school. We do it a lot together. We joke around, do our homework together and are laughing a lot. There isn’t a very specific moment that is my favorite one, it is more about all the small things together. He really became a brother to me. Tanner makes me laugh every single time, even though you are not in the mood of laughing. He is just the happiest and funniest kid. He will do stuff with me, like going to of the drama plays, just because he doesn’t want me to do it alone.
In the end, I learned so much from them and I’ve done a lot of things that I wouldn’t have done if I haven’t met these wonderful people. I’m just so happy and lucky that they decided to host me and make my exchange year as wonderful as it could be. I found my second family on the other half of the world and I’ll be so sad to leave them in a few month. But good byes are not forever. So I will come back next summer and we will have a big family reunion with my German family.
Want to learn more about the other Host Family of the Year winners?
- National Winner: The Hammond Family from Illinois, nominated by Milica from Montenegro
- Runner-Up: The Wenslow Family from New York, nominated by Ludwig from Germany
- Runner-Up: The DeBouver Family from Ohio, nominated by Emily from Germany
- Runner-Up: The Gay Family from Wisconsin, nominated by Laura from Austria
You and your family could be next year’s Host Family of the Year! Open a high school international exchange student’s eyes to a whole new world by hosting with AYA.